Posted by: Billy Marsh | September 18, 2007

Are You A Child of God? Part III

Jesus and the Little Children

Once I got about 2/3 of the way through with my post yesterday, I realized it was already too long. So, I decided to wait and post the final part a little later. However, a day later is enough since there is little more to say in order to tie in the final conclusions concerning the test of truth and the test of love in 1 John 4 to his last main purpose statement in 1 John 5:13. In case you have caught the tail end of this brief devotion on 1 John 4, click on these links to view Part I and Part II or you can click on the category in my sidebard titled “1 John”.

Purpose 3: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 ~ This verse is very reminiscent of John 20:30-31 where the Apostle submits his purpose for writing his own gospel account independent of the Synoptics: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (v 31).” Though John’s purpose statement in his gospel may be debated as to whether or not its main idea is evangelistic or promoting an already existent belief, the Beloved Disciple’s third main purpose clause in the letter of 1 John seems much more clearer as to his specific goal.

Here, he is presupposing that his readers are those “who believe in the name of the Son of God”; therefore, his purpose of writing “these things” is to confirm their faith. He desires to exhort his audience to a sure and certain faith, one that provides them with full assurance of their salvation and total confidence on the day of Judgment (4:17; 5:14).

So, how does the test of truth relate to this third purpose? Well, as stated clearly enough in the previous articles, John denotes the “Spirit of truth” in a person dependent upon their confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (4:2). Therefore, the test of truth as to whether or not you are a child of God immediately relates back to the first clause of 5:13 which demonstrates that believing in the name of the Son of God is an absolute prerequisite for having eternal life. In fact, John closes out his letter with the statements, “. . . and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (5:20).” For John, knowledge is not equivalent to salvation, but instead attaining the truth, acknowledging it as such, and then believing it and confessing it, leads to being given eternal life. This is a non-negotiable fact due to the very nature of all three persons of the Trinity, whom John attributes each one as “true” in this letter: the Spirit of Truth (4:2,6), God the Father is true (5:20), and Jesus is the true God (5:20). If the Triune God is true, then salvation in his name must be based upon knowledge of him that is true. This concept is in congruence with some of the reasoning behind why John teaches that one cannot deny the Son and have the Father, nor can he or she confess the Son and not have the Father (2:23).

With respect to the test of love in a Christian’s life, its relationship to this third and final explicit purpose statement comes into play with reference to the eternal security of the believer. John writes so that his hearers my know that they have eternal life in the Son of God’s name. If we look back in 4:17, John connects this test to his last purpose, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” If you gaze upwards back at v 16, you will see that John is teaching about God’s love abiding in us and our abiding in him, the One who is love. Let me just quote John in his own words, “. . . and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (4:16).” Therefore, the test of love reveals who God’s children are due to the fact that they rightfully reveal who He is. Essentially, God pours out his love in us so that we can love him and others with the love he gives us which in turn reflects that the God of love abides in us. And according to the Apostle John, this proves that we are his children since that love is perfected in us, thus giving us proper confidence as we approach the day of Judgment. Through being men and women who embody and practice the love of God, we can know that we have eternal life in his Son’s name and confidence in our salvation on the day of his return (5:1-5, 13).

Let me close with a quote from John Calvin’s notes on 5:13, the Beloved Disciple John’s last purpose statement:

But we ought to observe the way in which faith is confirmed, even by having the office and power of Christ explained to us. For the Apostle says that he wrote these things, that is, that eternal life is to be sought nowhere else but in Christ, in order that they who were believers already might believe, that is, make progress in believing. It is therefore the duty of a godly teacher, in order to confirm disciples in the faith, to extol as much as possible the grace of Christ, so that being stasfied with that, we may seek nothing else.


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